How Badly Does Seattle Need Bobby Wagner? Seahawks LB Deserves DPOY Consideration Despite Aaron Donald Dominance

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Bobby Wagner is unquestionably one of the best linebackers of the past decade, and his game against the San Francisco 49ers showed everything he can do. He does everything for the Seattle defense and he does it at an elite level. There has been a lot of turnover around him, but his play does not falter. He has always been appreciated, and now that he is the sole superstar on the defense, he is not overshadowed or overlooked anymore. The Seahawks would probably only have four or five wins this year without him.

Since 2012, the year Wagner came into the league, he is second in tackles with 941, per Pro Football Reference (Luke Kuechly tops the list with 947). Wagner makes big plays on the ball too. He is the current active NFL leader in fumbles returned for touchdowns; he has scooped up three fumbles in his career and taken them to the house. And last Sunday he had one of the more impressive interception return touchdowns I have ever seen.

The 49ers were driving down the field and were in the red zone. Wagner was playing zone coverage with his feet on the goal line, and he was just watching Nick Mullens’ eyes. The running back ran a curl right up the middle, and as soon as he turned and Mullens cocked his arm, Wagner exploded forward. He darted in front of the RB, made a great grab and just took off down the sideline. People know he is fast, but you don’t see people trying to catch him very much. And he showed just how speedy he is on that play; Mullens looked like he had a chance to catch him at one point, but he ran out of steam. It was the longest interception return in Seahawk history.

Wagner is consistent as well as explosive, and looking at games where he didn’t play paints a pretty clear picture of what he means to the defense. Last year when he went out against the Jaguars, Seattle was gashed on the next several plays and gave up multiple touchdowns. The last game he missed entirely was in 2015—the defense wasn’t terrible, but it did allow two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and Greg Olsen ate them up.

You have to believe Wagner would have been able to help. In 2014, he missed five games; although the Seahawks went 3-2 in Wagner’s absence, Tony Dungy gave his MVP vote to Bobby Wagner. He did so going against the norm of MVP votes where the quarterback of the best team gets the award.

To go with his MVP vote, Wagner has been voted first team All-Pro three times, he has been to the last four Pro Bowls and he is a Super Bowl Champion.

This is a defensive player with little left to prove, but he is hungry for more and is in his prime. At Week 15 of the NFL season, Wagner is the number one rated linebacker in football, according to Pro Football Focus.

He is the best run defender and pass coverage linebacker in the NFL this year with an overall grade of 92.4. And he is coming off arguably the best game of his career. He had 12 tackles, forced a fumble, recovered that fumble, got a sack and two QB hits, broke up a pass and returned an interception almost 100 yards for a touchdown.

So, to get back to my question: How much do the Seahawks need Bobby Wagner? They need him so much right now; he is the star of the defense. He makes everyone around him better because he executes his assignments and doesn’t miss plays. He is a jack of all trades who covers receivers as well as he rushes the passer and stops the run with authority.

Wagner probably won’t get much traction for Defensive Player of the Year because of Aaron Donald’s ridiculous stats, but that is a product of playing while another amazing player is in the league.

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About Author

Tim Kearny

I am a Seattle based sports writer who has lived in Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana and Washington. I love writing about sports, football in particular. Seattle is home and I love the Northwest. If you like the articles or don’t like them, let me know on Twitter. If you keep reading them you will start noticing I like talking about movies and stuff too.

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